Fault in a rear-end collision is often determined by assuming that the tailgating driver did not provide an appropriate following distance. In many cases, fault will be attributed to the tailing driver who struck the other vehicle from behind. It will often be assumed that the tailing driver failed to obey traffic laws that require drivers to maintain a safe following distance if they must brake suddenly.
There are other factors that may influence how fault is determined in a rear-end collision, including various contributing factors that may have led to the accident. If a state uses a form of comparative negligence law, both drivers could be found to share a degree of fault for the crash in certain circumstances.
How Negligence Is Determined in Rear-End Collisions
You may associate rear-end collisions with low-speed fender benders, but these kinds of crashes can result in serious injuries and even fatalities. Nearly 2,500 people were killed in rear-end crashes in 2017, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). Many drivers involved in rear-end collisions may wonder if they will be held responsible for the accident and the resulting damage or if the other driver will be found liable.
When determining who is at fault for an accident, both drivers may be scrutinized for evidence of negligence. In other words, a lawyer, a judge, or an insurance adjuster may consider how the reckless or careless actions of one or both drivers contributed to the accident.
For rear-end accident cases, the driver who was following will often be found negligent because most states require drivers to practice safe following distances. Failing to do so is often seen as a form of negligence, and therefore, the tailgating driver is often found to be at fault. The evidence of fault for a rear-end collision is often clear, as the damage to the tailing driver’s front end and damage to the lead driver’s bumper will give the evidence away.
However, there are some cases where the negligence of both drivers will factor into a final determination of fault for the accident. The way fault is determined in an accident may influence how drivers are compensated through an insurance claim or lawsuit, depending on your state.
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When Both Drivers or the Lead Driver Is at Fault
A rear-end accident could have resulted from a combination of many factors. For instance, the tailing driver may have been distracted and failed to notice that the lead driver was coming to a stop at an intersection. In this case, fault for the accident may be more straightforward, as the distracted driver’s negligence was a primary factor in the collision.
Teen drivers are particularly susceptible to causing rear-end collisions through distraction, as distraction played a role in 76% of rear-end crashes involving teens, according to a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study.
However, there are cases where both driver’s actions played a role in causing the accident. For instance, if the driver being followed was displaying signs of aggressive driving or road rage, their actions may have been significant in the crash. Suddenly slamming on the brakes to send aggressive signals to other drivers, or brake-checking, is a form of negligence that may be considered when determining fault in a rear-end collision.
In this case, both drivers may be found at fault, or the driver who was displaying road rage may be found to be primarily at fault.
Other common scenarios where the lead driver may be found to be at fault or share fault include failing to fix a broken taillight, suddenly backing up, or driving with mechanical issues that led to the accident.
State Insurance Laws and Comparative Negligence
For insurance and other purposes, each state provides laws about how fault is determined in the event of an accident. Some states use a no-fault system, which means that each driver starts the process of collecting compensation through their insurance provider after an accident.
In other states, such as Indiana, fault works based on a form of comparative negligence, which is known as modified comparative negligence. In this system, the determination of who was at fault for an accident will influence how compensation is awarded after an accident involving injuries. In Indiana, a driver must be less than 51% at fault to seek compensation for medical bills and other injury-related costs.
Laws regarding fault in an accident can be complex. A lawyer can help you determine how negligence may affect the outcome of your accident claim or lawsuit.
Call Sevenish Law Firm, P.C., to Learn How We Can Help
Many people who face accident-related property damage and injuries will wonder how fault is determined in a rear-end accident. If you have been in an accident, you will likely be considering how to take steps to seek compensation by filing an insurance claim or lawsuit. If you were seriously injured after a rear-end accident, you could face thousands of dollars in medical expenses and other accident-related expenses.
You don’t have to be alone in pursuing compensation. At Sevenish Law Firm, P.C., we understand rear-end accident cases and personal injury law. An Indianapolis car accident lawyer on our team can determine who was at fault in your accident, gather evidence to build a compelling case, communicate with the insurance companies, and file a lawsuit on your behalf if necessary.
You can speak with a representative at Sevenish Law Firm, P.C., for a free case review and to learn more about how we can help. Call us today at (317) 636-7777.